The Record of the Rocks
February 17th, 1957 @ 8:15 AM
THE RECORD OF THE ROCKS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-17-57 8:15 a.m.
These are the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. This is the 8:15 o’clock service, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Creation of Man and the Facts of Fossilology, or The Record of the Rocks.
In the first chapter of Genesis, in which we have been preaching now since the first of September, we have come to the twenty-sixth verse, and it reads:
And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them.
And in the context, the Scriptures say of this creation, that God created the moving creature that hath life, the fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven, and the creatures that moveth in the waters after their kind, the winged fowl after his kind.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind.
And God made the beasts of the earth after his kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
The creation of all of the life and its forms that we see in this world, the Scriptures say, God did it according to a pattern. And that pattern is fixed, God says, it is locked, it is unbreakable. God created all these forms of life, the Scriptures say, after their kind. He did it by family unit. He did it by species [Genesis 1:21, 24, 25]. Now that’s what God’s Book says.
This morning we are going to the record of the rocks. And we are going to see if what God has written in His Book is the same thing that God has written in His rocks. The study of paleontology or fossilology is a study of life of the geological ages of the long ago. It differs from botany and zoology and biology in this, that the life that it observes, the individuals that it studies are in fossil form. They lived long, long ago.
If I am a biologist, I’ll study life as it is now. If I am a zoologist, I’ll be studying animals. If I’m a botanist, I’ll be studying plants as they are now. But if I’m a paleontologist or a fossilologist, I’ll be studying life as it was long, long ago.
Now the study of geology is the study of the geological ages of the earth. It is a study of the rocks. And the geologist divides the supposed history of this earth into five or maybe six great, enormous periods. And in order for us to enter this brief study of fossilology this morning, we want to acquaint ourselves with these terms that the paleontologist will often use, these geological ages and periods of our earth. They call the first great division an era, and then, in the era, they will divide it up into periods. Now the first geological age is called Azoic. The Greek word for life is zoe. So these syllables “zoic” refer to life. The word zoology is built on that Greek word zoe, “life”; animal life. Now, the first geological era is called Azoic. That is back yonder in the dim and undated past, before there was any such thing as life, Azoic.
Now the second era is called Archeozoic. The Greek word for ancient is archaois. The Greek word for beginning is archē. So Archeozoic is way back there in the beginning, and they date that age about one billion years ago.
Now the third geological era is called Proterozoic. The Greek word for before or earlier is proteros. So Proterozoic is back yonder in the geological age 650 million years ago.
Now the fourth geological age is Paleozoic. Palaios means “old and ancient.” Paleozoic is the era of a hundred million years ago. Now, the Paleozoic Age is divided into several periods; some of which are very common in the books you read of the study of these paleontological subjects. Here are some of the periods now in the Paleozoic Age. There would be the Cambrian period, from the Cambrian whales where they find that dated layer. Then there’ll be Silurian, then there’ll be the sub-Carboniferous or the Mississippian, or there will be the upper-Carboniferous, which will be the Pennsylvanian, then the Permian. You have a Permian base and they refer to out here around Midland where they discovered vast pools of oil. All of those are periods in the Paleozoic age.
Now the fifth geological era is called Mesozoic. Mesos is the Greek word for “middle.” So Mesozoic, that’s the geological age they say seventy million years ago. And it is divided into the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous. The Latin word for chalk is creta, and from the chalk formations in that age, Cretaceous.
And then, the last geological age is Cenozoic. The Greek word for now, for recent, for new is kainos, and from it, they get the word “Cenozoic.” And the Cenozoic Age, the recent age, begins at fifty million years ago, and it is divided into periods, the names of which you will often come across in geology or paleontology. One is Eocene. The Greek word for dawn is eos, and of course, kainos, recent; so the Eocene is the recent dawn age. Then the Miocene; Meion means less, so the Miocene Age. Then the Pliocene; pleion means more, the greater—the Pliocene. Then the next period is the Pleistocene. Pleistos means most, greatest, and then finally you come to the recent, or the human age.
Now those are the great periods; the Azoic, the Archeozoic, the Proterozoic, the Paleozoic, the Mesozoic, and the Cenozoic. Those are the great geological ages of the past. And the way they date those ages is this: in any lake or in any great ocean, there will be sediment, sand, and gravel, and mud that settles to the bottom of the great water. And in the ages of the ages, that sediment, sand and gravel and mud, in many instances, turns into solid rock. Then in the convulsions of the earth in the ages past, great bodies of dry land that you now see were once the bottoms of these great bodies of water. So in the ages past, when the bottoms of some of those oceans and some of those great lakes were pushed up and made into mountains and high plateaus, you can read there the record of the history of the earth from those great layers that were deposited in the bottom of the ocean or of the lake.
For example, if you ever go to the Grand Canyon, which is a geologist’s paradise, you will see great differing layers all the way from the top, thousands of feet up there, clear down to that basalt, through which the Colorado River is now cutting its way. That bottom part is the original earth. All of that above it has been deposited in separate layers through these geological ages.
Now you read the rock book from the bottom up. The oldest age is at the bottom, then the next age, then the next age, then the next age, then the recent age will be at the top. Now, with this little brief background of a kind of a thing in which we’re going to look for life, let us begin with this study of fossils.
A fossil is a plant or an animal that lived long, long ago, and you find its traces, you find the record of its life in fossil remains. There are many, many kinds of fossils. One is like this. A leaf that grew in one of these geological ages fell into soft, limey mud. And it was covered with that soft, limey mud, and the leaf gradually decayed, but as it decayed, it was replaced with that limey mud. And in the years, the geological ages that followed, the mud turned to solid rock. Then in these recent days, when you break the rock and split it, there is a perfect cast of a leaf, the raised figure of the leaf on the smooth surface of the split stone—that is a fossil.
Here is a fossil. A long time ago in one of these geological ages, an animal walked over soft mud. Then following the footprints of the animal in the mud, there was washed into the footprints, so gently that the footprints were not disturbed, there were washed in sediment. And then, in the ages that passed the layer of mud turned to solid rock, was pressed and hardened into solid rock. And there, imprinted forever in stone, are the footprints of an ancient animal of the geological age. That is a fossil.
Another kind of a fossil would be such a thing as you would see in the banks of the Red River. I’ve gone around Lake Texoma up here, and there are uncounted billions and billions of fossils to be seen, some of them enormous, to be seen in some of the banks of the Red River. Those fossils that I see there are the shells and the hard part of animals that have been buried in rock banks, and they’re there today, just as they died in geological ages of the long ago. They are fossils.
Another kind of fossil will be a petrified bone. There fell to the bottom of the lake, there sank to the bottom of the lake, the bones of animals. And those bones were covered over with the slime and mud of the lake or of the body of water. And in the ages past, the water gradually dissolved away, particle by particle, the material of the bone and deposited in its place a precipitous of lime or of some other matter. Finally, the entire bone was dissolved away, but in its place there is an exact replica of that bone in solid stone. That is a fossil.
Another kind of fossil is when a substance has captured the body of an animal and has preserved it without decaying. For example, in the Carboniferous Age, which they date something like a hundred million years ago, in the Carboniferous Age, the conifers, the coniferous trees, exuded gum and resin, and it fell on the ground, and it ran down the side of the trunks of the tree. And little insects would get caught in that resin, and little ants would get stuck in that resin. The resin was buried in the ground. And in the years and the ages past, the resin turned into what we call amber. And in that amber, you can see, perfectly preserved, the entire bodies of the little ants, of the insects, that were trapped therein. That is a fossil.
Another kind of a fossil would be an animal that was trapped in the glacial ice, and after the passing of these ages and ages from the Pleistocene, the glacial age, which they date something like 50 million years ago or less, you will find in the glacial ice, the entire body of the animal that lived so long ago. Those are fossils.
Another fossil, that about a week ago I went out to see, another kind of a fossil, in the La Brea Tar Pits in the southern California, animals were trapped in those pools. After a great, heavy rain, they were covered in water, and great animals going down to drink, unaware of the terrible tar pools beneath the surface of the water, were caught therein. And they became death traps for these great mastodons, and those great dinosaurs, and those great sloths, and those great animals of the long ago. And there they are in fossil form, as they have been for the millions and the millions of the years past.
Now these are fossils. There are other kinds, but that’s enough to give you an idea of what we mean by a fossil. Now, in this world for a man to look at, there are uncounted billions and billions and billions of fossils. I read of one ledge in California that is exposed about six hundred feet deep and about half a mile long, and it is estimated that in that one ledge alone, there are more than ten billion fossils, and there are no telling how many others there are because we do not know how deep into the mountain that ledge extends. So fossil life is everywhere, and it is multitudinous, and any man who wishes to study it can find it without end, millions and billions of individuals.
The theory of evolution is this: that all of the forms of life that we now see came from one primordial protozoan. There is a common ancestor back there in the beginning, whenever that was, whenever it started, there’s a common ancestor back there from which all of the forms of life have now developed. Way back yonder somewhere, there was a little amoeba-like bit of protoplasm that felt the first, faint stirring of ambition. And it started out on that long, arduous journey that millions and millions of years later, finally fruited in the crowning animal by which he calls himself Homo sapiens. That is the theory of evolution.
Now along the way, as that little amoeba-like protoplasm developed up into the man that you see today, along the way, there was incidentally developed about one hundred twenty-five million different species. That was just incidental, as the little amoeba-like, little protoplasm began to evolve into this man that calls himself Homo sapiens.
Now, you would expect to find in the geological record of this earth, you would expect to find, if that is true, if we drifted from one species into another, if the fish drift over into four-legged amphibians, and if the four-legged amphibians gradually drift over into birds, if the scales turn into feathers, and if the feathers turn into wings, and if the snakes sprout legs and fur, if all of these reptiles finally turn into mammals, and these marsupials turn into apes and finally into men, you would expect to find all of that plainly, distinctly in the great fossilogical ages of the past, wouldn’t you?
There you have the record of life from the beginning. And the evolutionist says, “And all of these species drifted into one another as they gradually evolved up from the little speck of protoplasm to the man that you see today.” So, with great anticipation, with wonderful interest, we’re going to turn our faces to the rocks and to see if we can find in those rocks the record of the evolutionary story that the evolutionist says is so plainly manifest. All right, what do the rocks say?
The rocks say three things. First: the record of the rocks is exactly like the record of the Book. The record of the rocks says that life appeared suddenly. It burst into this world with seeming complexity and diversity. The rocks say that when a family appears, it appears whole and complete and finished for the environment in which it was made to live. It appears without antecedents, and without previous development, but whenever life appears, it appears sudden and complete!
For example, when the fish appears, he has his fins, and he has his gills, and he has his scales, and he has all of the appurtenances for living in water. And when the fowls appear, the birds appear with their wings, and they appear with their plumes, and they appear with all of the other habiliments that go with the winged bird. And when the first armadillo appears, there he is bearing the same impenetrable armor that his progeny bears.
All of these families, all of these species, when they appear, they appear suddenly, and they appear just as they are, complete and furnished for life. Those that ought to have teeth, have them. Every once in a while, I’ll see a mother, and she just worries herself to death because her baby doesn’t have any teeth. Well, brother, just wait a little while, and mother, just wait a little while, God has teeth fitted for that little baby, and they’ll be right along. Those that need teeth, have teeth. Those that have to have gizzards, have gizzards. Everything is furnished just as God has made it, and it appears suddenly, and it appears just that way.
Well, isn’t that a remarkable thing? There is no evidence at all that any of these forms of life that we see in those geological ages, that they ever develop or that they ever evolved from antecedents. How do you explain that?
Well, Charles Darwin attempted a feeble explanation, and it is this, I quote from Darwin. “Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain, and this perhaps is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, however, in the extreme imperfection of the geologic record.” End quote.
Now, isn’t that an odd thing? The record suffers from extreme imperfection when it comes to the point that we want to know. When it comes to bridging over these families, when it comes to demonstrating the evolving of one species from another, he says the geologic record suffers from extreme imperfection. But the geological record is filled with data, multitudinous data, when it comes to exhibiting the separate families and the separate species themselves!
There are thousands of billions of individuals that you can see in fossil life. And all of them are in those fixed, unbreakable units, that we call families or species. And there’s not any instance in geology or in fossilology or in paleontology where one species ever developed over into another. He says the reason they cannot prove it lies in the extreme imperfection of the geologic record. The truth of the matter lies, there’s no such thing in geological time, as in modern time, where any of those species ever changed or evolved from one into the other.
That is one of the tremendous blows to the evolutionary hypothesis. Life began, so far as we are able to tell, in the Cambrian layer. Remember, I told you some of these words are very often used. The Cambrian layer, which they date something like a hundred million years ago; life, they say, began in the Cambrian layer. That is, when you come to what they call the Cambrian layer, it is filled with thousands and thousands of fossils, and all of those little creatures are diversified and complex. Life immediately and life suddenly appears in the pre-Cambrian layer. In the layers of the Proterozoic era, there’s no life at all; none at all. Then come to the Cambrian layer, and there life came. It bursts suddenly into this world, without development, without evolution, there it is.
So all of the appearance of the families of life—when you see them in the geological strata—they all appear suddenly, and they all appear complete. The first bat is a true bat. The first whale is a true whale. The first shark is a true shark. The first anything is a true whatever of that family it is, and it shows no evolving at all, no gradual development from previous species. Whenever you see it in geological records, there it is, just the same as you see it today.
Well, why is it that the evolutionist will not admit that thing that he sees with his own eyes? Even the great evolutionist, Lecompte du Noϋy, well-known French scientist, in his book, Human Destiny, published in 1947, hailed as a brilliant contribution to the theory of evolution, even this great French scientist admitted, and I quote from him: “Each group, order, or family seems to be born suddenly, and we hardly ever find the forms which link them to the preceding strain. When we discover them, they are already completely differentiated. Not only do we find practically no transitional form, but in general, it is impossible to authentically connect a new group with an ancient one.”
He admits that the reptiles appeared suddenly, that they cannot be linked with any of their terrestrial compatriots. And he makes the same admission regarding mammals. And about birds, he says, and I quote, “They have all the unsatisfactory characteristics of absolute creation.”
Now what we want to know and what we would like to ask is this: why does Lecompte refer to absolute creation as being “unsatisfactory?” The answer is this. The evolutionist looks upon spatial creation, as it is recorded by the hand of God in the Book of Genesis, he looks upon it as a thing not to be seen, and a thing not to be heard, and a thing not to be spoken of. He is prejudiced against the creative act of God, and he looks upon it as an evil, if he admits it.
For example, Sir Arthur Keith said, “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is spatial creation, and that is unthinkable.” And I quote from another, Professor D. M. S. Watson of the University of London, “Evolution itself is accepted by a zoologist, not because it has been observed to occur or can be proved by the logical, coherent evidence to be proved, but because the only alternative, spatial creation, is clearly incredible.”
The evolutionist begins with an a priori judgment that there is no such thing as God’s creative acts. Therefore, anything that proves spatial creation is immediately cast aside and scorned and ridiculed, and everything that they can marshal together, whether it’s true or not true, in order to prove an unprovable theory, in order to demonstrate an untrue hypothesis, anything they write, they draw, they use their imagination and plaster of Paris to present to the public, and to put in textbooks, and to change and warp the mind of our young people.
The first evidence that we see from the record of the rocks is this, that life appeared suddenly, just like it says in the Bible, and then when life appeared suddenly, it appeared in fixed families and species just like it says in the Bible [Genesis 1-3]: first, your plant life in those geological ages; then second, your animal life in those geological ages; and finally the appearance of the man that God made—the first thing we learned from the record of the rocks.
All right, the second thing we learn from the record of the rocks. It is this. As there is no evidence of evolution today, if you have been reading, just a few days ago, they had a meeting of the scientists of the University of California, and they sent out a note that was broadcast and published in the papers, saying that they were now developing the theory that evolution had stopped, regarding mankind at least. Well, that’s a great admission, isn’t it? As though a blind man couldn’t see that, yeah, evolution is stopped, they say, with regard to us now.
The record of the rocks is this. Second: that what you see now is the same thing that what you could have seen a long time ago. There is no evolution now. There was no evolution then. There was no transferring from species to species then, just as there is not now. There’s no evolving now. There is no changing now. You don’t see cats turning into dogs, and you don’t see dogs turning into cows, and you don’t see cows turning into horses, and you don’t see horses turning into apes, and apes into men. You don’t see it now. You don’t see it back there in the fossilogical ages of the past. The same fixity of species that you see today is the same fixity of species that you see in the geological ages of the past. There’s no difference. The way God runs His world today is the same way that God runs His world back there.
For example, oh, I wish we had an hour for these things. For example, way back there in the Cambrian layer, that’s the first stratum of the Paleozoic Age, which they date a hundred million years ago, way back yonder in that beginning, there were formed in this world what you call moss agate, the rising of water from the lower parts of the earth, carrying variegated chalcedonies and coming through mineral salts; where the waters rise, and with all of these contents, when the water evaporated, those different chemicals precipitated. And sometimes the water would have in it oxide of iron, or oxide of zinc, or oxide of lead, and having no affinity with the chalcedony, why, those particles that did not amalgamate remained separate. And it formed beautiful exquisite patterns that you call moss agates. Now, in one of those moss agates that I read about, there is trapped a little mosquito, right in the middle of that moss agate. That little mosquito was trapped in that moss agate according to their own reckoning, something like one hundred million years ago. And he is exactly like his fearful, and foul, and no count, and good for nothing, and sorry and pestiferous progeny today. Aren’t you glad he didn’t evolve? Evolution, they say, comes from the simple to the complex, from the little to the big. Brother, in a hundred million years, if he’d been evolving, you would have mosquitoes today roaming around this earth that were as big as eagles. Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad? He’s just the same. He’s just the same. Back there in that Silurian Age, which they say is something less than a hundred million years ago, back there were the little coral polyps working in the bottom of the ocean, and back there were the little algae. And the coral of today and the little algae of today is exactly as he was a hundred million years ago. He hasn’t changed an iota!
The evolutionist is always hiding behind the fact that you can’t observe this. You can’t see it. It’s like those bulchanics in Li’l Abner. You know you can’t see them. He’s got them in a cage, but you can’t see ‘em. Well, that’s the way, that’s the way the evolutionist is about this process. He says you can’t see it because it takes millions of years for it to happen.
All right, here are coral. Here are little algae; the lower little animals that you can observe as they were a hundred million years ago! And he’s the same little polyp, he’s the same little algae today as he was a hundred million years ago. He hasn’t evolved at all.
All right, let’s take those little creatures that you have in the Carboniferous Age, also in the Paleozoic Era, caught in amber. He’s the same little ant. He’s the same little insect that you have today. He hasn’t evolved at all. Or take the crayfish in the Carboniferous Era. They were everywhere, and they’re the same today as they were then. In the Eocene Age, there are great deposits of fossil life in the Pacific Coast Range; used to be a part of the Pacific ocean. Now it’s been raised up seven or eight thousand feet. There you can find the great shark. There you can find the great whale, there you can find all kinds of fish, and they are the same kind of thing that you find out there in the Pacific ocean today, and the Eocene Age, they dated fifty million years ago.
And in the Pleistocene Era, somewhat less than fifty million years ago, there’s a grasshopper glacier up there in Montana. In the day of the glacial period, those grasshoppers, going in front of the approaching cold, fell by the millions and the millions into the lake. They froze there in the lake and became the part of the glacier. And you can see those grasshoppers in that grasshopper glacier just today as they were when they were frozen there fifty or less million years ago. And they’re the same kind of grasshopper that you have today.
Well, my time’s gone. I have one other thing about the record of the rocks. May I briefly say it in just a moment. The first record of the rocks is this, that life appeared suddenly, and that each family when it appeared, appeared in its unbreakable unit, whole and complete. The second avowal was that there was no changing from one species to the other, but the species were fixed in geological age as it is today.
All right, a third avowal: if there is any change as you look at geology, as you look at fossilology, if there is any change, it is not up, it is not evolving, it is not evolution. If there is any change, it is devolution, it is degeneration, and there is no exception of that that we can find.
For example, when I went out to the museum, I saw there a fossil skeleton of an enormous elephant. My soul, if we had things like that walking around, why, those great tusks were from here to the front bench there, the Elephas imperator; the biggest elephant that we’ve had was in the jungle, called Jumbo, and everybody paid to see Jumbo. Well, he’s a pygmy compared to the elephants we used to have! Instead of going on, they’ve coming down. The biggest sloth that we have is a little old animal, the biggest one known wouldn’t weigh more than thirty pounds. But when I was out there in that museum, they had demonstrations of sloths that weighed four, five, and six tons!
And that dread tyrannosaurus is the little crocodile of today. And the terrible stegosaurus is the little horned toad today. That saber-toothed tiger that you can see, I’ve never seen an animal in skeleton form that looked to me to be as vicious as that, and as able to conquer the world, as a saber-toothed tiger, and I wish I had time to describe how God made him. And his descendant today is possibly a wild cat or some little old feline animal that’s nothing.
If the thing is changing, if the thing is evolving, if the thing is descending, it isn’t that, it’s this. It’s not going up. It’s coming down! That’s what the record of the rocks say. And the record of the rocks is exactly like the record of the Book [Genesis 1:1-31].
Now we sing our invitation hymn, a stanza, a stanza. And while we sing that stanza, on the first note of it, on the first syllable of it, if there’s somebody here today to give his heart in faith to the Lord, to believe the witness of God to the truth and to His Son Christ Jesus, would you come and stand by me? While all of us stand and sing.